Texans excited by O'Brien's first impression

Texans excited by O'Brien's first impression
January 4, 2014, 8:00 am
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Texans LB Brian Cushing reacts to O'Brien hiring

(USA Today Images)

On Thursday afternoon, as Danieal Manning was at his corner locker after a rehab session, he heard three voices coming from the far end of the Texans’ locker room.

As the three turned the far corner, one voice belonged to equipment director Jay Brunetti. One belonged to public relations director Kevin Cooper. And the third belonged to new Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who was being given his first tour of the stadium after flying into Houston.

“I could hear him, he was just asking a bunch of questions about the locker room, the training room, the setup,” said Manning, who was the first player to meet the new coach. “It seemed like he was a very organized, detailed guy.”

Manning, the 31-year-old veteran safety, said he was introduced to O’Brien and the two spoke briefly. But what impressed Manning about their first encounter was before they met; he was impressed to see how detail-oriented O’Brien appeared to be.

“You definitely have to be on top of stuff and being detailed goes a long way,” Manning said. “And explaining that to coaches and making sure everyone’s on the same page, that can help you go all the way.”

A few more of Manning’s teammates got the opportunity to meet O’Brien on Friday, before the team held its 11 a.m. (sharp) press conference to introduce the head coach to the city.  

Among those to meet O’Brien on Friday was defensive leader Brian Cushing, who was in the building rehabbing his knee injury. Cushing, like Manning, didn’t have a chance to talk to O’Brien for very long and when they did, their conversation was mostly about family and was just to get to know one another.

“I’m excited. I think everyone is,” Cushing said. “He’s a hard-nosed kind of guy and he’s had success and that’s something that we’re obviously looking for. Just looking forward to playing under him. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people when I say that too.”

Cushing, who is known as one of the more intense players in the NFL, was asked about O’Brien’s reputation as a fiery guy. He’s heard that too and Cushing thinks it could be a good thing for his team.

“I think so too,” Cushing said when told that teammates think O’Brien’s personality will work. “I think at the same time, maybe this is what the organization needed. To have this much talent for that to happen is obviously unacceptable. So obviously we need a little bit of a spark and a little bit of a change and I think that’s what Coach O’Brien brings.”

A couple players – Chris Myers and Alan Bonner – watched Friday’s press conference live in-person. They sat behind the media seats in a section reserved for VIPs.  

Manning didn’t watch it in person. He was in the training room doing rehab work but watched it on television. He later apologized to O’Brien for missing it, to which O’Brien told him he understood. What impressed Manning most about his new head coach from the press conference was O’Brien’s team-first mentality.

“When you can relate to everybody by calling yourself a teammate, it can take the distance away,” Manning said. “Someone has to be the leader of this team. Someone has to be the leader but he’s a teammate too. He’s a part of the team. I’m a player, I play safety, but I’m a part of this team. I play my role. I’m part of this team. He came across way.”